Poker player profile: Lisa Teebagy

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Lisa Teebagy is the most successful player in High Heels Poker Tour history. She’s only been playing for three years, yet she owns three HHPT titles and has two World Series cashes in her young career. She recently sat down with Ante Up publisher Chris Cosenza to answer questions about life as a female poker player.

Age: You know a woman never likes to be asked that! (laughs) People don’t believe me when I say it, but I’m 43.

Hometown: Lighthouse Point, Fla.

Born: I was born in Boston but I’ve lived here almost all my life. I came here when I was 2. I consider myself a Florida girl. Everybody thinks I’m from New York. (laughs)

Family: My whole family, my mom, my dad and my grandma play at the Isle. We’re all into poker. So on any given day that one of us is there you’ll probably catch the other three. We’re a family that plays poker and we stay together.

Nickname: I go by L.L. My nieces and nephews call me Lee-Lee.

Favorite hold’em hand: I have several and on any given day it could vary. … I don’t have one in particular, but whatever the winning hand is, that’s my favorite hand.

How often do people mispronounce your last name? Very often! (laughs) It’s to the point where I don’t even correct them anymore. (It’s pronounced tee-BADGE-ee)

Do you play any mixed games? I’ve dabbled in it, seven-card stud and a little bit of pot-limit … but I want to get as much experience and expertise in Texas Hold’em ’cause I definitely would like to make this my living one day. I definitely want to learn a variety of games, but I’m a tournament player for Texas Hold’em and I’m now getting into cash games, two totally different animals. So I’m branching into that. Once I get a good grip on that I will start to go into Omaha because I think that’s up-and-coming, especially online.

How and when did you get started in poker? It’s probably going on three years ago. … I was over (my parents’) house for dinner one day, and my father came home and he was talking about a hand he had played in the poker room at the Isle. He was saying all this stuff I didn’t understand about the hand. But it was so intriguing and it presented such a challenge with his decisions as he went through talking about this hand. Because I didn’t understand it, it really got my interest totally piqued. I love challenges and I love to solve things, and I’m very competitive. … I decided, after getting so interested in that hand, to go play a sit-n-go. So I entered a low-scale SNG at the Isle and I actually won it. … It was like my blood was flowing inside of me and it was very addicting, just grabbed me and wouldn’t let go.

How important is the High Heels Poker Tour? Oh! I am very thankful for the High Heels Poker Tour in many ways, first and foremost of the format that it provides for women. I never was afraid to play with men, but I do know other women that weren’t playing because they were very intimidated. They were just afraid to make a mistake, to get yelled at, and that does happen. So this allowed women to come in, just relax a little bit, know that they’re not going to be judged or criticized. It’s kinda like a more social yet competitive arena for women. … I think playing with women is much harder than playing with all men, because women can be fickle, they can be stubborn, they can sit on a hand, and it might not even be the best hand, but they can call you down to the river on a bluff and you’re done. It’s more of a challenge. … You have the whole variety and it’s a very versatile game.

You’ve won three HHPT events. Why do you do so well in these? Maybe because I am a woman and I have the range that I can turn on aggression and I can turn it off. I’m really good with people skills as far as reading people, intuitive. Through the years I’ve gathered a good capacity of knowledge of the math of poker. So between the two of them I can really hone my game into the skill sets of playing with women vs. men.

What would you say to a guy if he forced his way into an HHPT event and sat next to you? I wouldn’t say anything to him. If he talked to me I probably wouldn’t talk because I don’t usually talk at the poker table anyway. It wouldn’t make me happy and I’d be like, “Why do you find it necessary to do it?” But he has just as much right as anyone else to play in it and that’s his choice and I’m not going to judge anybody for their actions.

Should there be segregation in poker as far as men vs. women? I don’t think it will always be this way. But I know women outside of poker like to hang with other women. They really like that break, so to speak. So I think there will always be venues for the High Heels Poker Tour and other women-only events. That definitely will always be a popular venue, but is it always going to be segregated like it is? I hate to think of it like that, but I don’t think it’s going to be essential or needed. Lauren (Failla), when she started the HHPT, she found a niche and a need and made it happen. She deserves a lot of credit, especially in this area, and now she’s branched out all over the United States.

How often do you travel to play poker? Probably three or four times a year. I’ll go to Vegas, I’ll go to Biloxi, or wherever the big events are.

Is there a buy-in ceiling for you? I’m not into the mega-stakes. With the HHPT I won a seat to the (WSOP) main event. However, I took the cash and played in other venues at the WSOP. I cashed in two World Series events so I was pretty proud of my abilities there. My goal is to play in the main event, but I wanted to wait to hone my skills before I did that. I have a target that within the next two years I will play in the main event.

What’s your greatest poker accomplishment? Definitely my HHPT wins, because like I said I consider playing against women probably one of the hardest fields to win against. And then I would say my cashes in the WSOP.

What do you think of Florida poker players? I definitely play different when I play in Florida than when I play in Vegas. You have really low-profile pros that play in Vegas. You never know where they’re going to be, if you’re playing against an online guru or what have you. When I play in Florida I’m not so much worried about that. I’m actually putting a little bit of safety play on my game so I can compete against the donks, so to speak.